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Featuring Demian Dressler, DVM and Sue Ettinger, DVM, Dip. ACVIM (Oncology), authors of The Dog Cancer Survival Guide

Palladia, First Dog Cancer Drug FDA Approved But Not Great

Updated: March 14th, 2019

Palladia, the first drug officially approved for use in treating dog cancer has arrived.  This was described in the Dog Cancer Survival Guide by it’s pre-market name, SU11654. Now it’s finally ready for release.

Palladia, made by Pfizer, has been approved by the FDA. It is expected to be available next year.  This drug is approved for treating mast cell tumors in the dog.

The fact that this is the first drug approved for dog cancer may be odd for many.  What about all those chemotherapy drugs that are used? They are not FDA approved?

Well, the facts are that vets and veterinary oncologists have been using human drugs the whole time.  As a matter of fact, many of the drugs we use generally are not FDA-approved for use in the canine.



Why?

It turns out that FDA drug approval is allowed for one species at a time.  On top of that, approval is for one disease or problem.  In veterinary medicine, we have cats, dogs, birds, rabbits, monkeys, snakes, and so on…many different species, and they all need treatment.

It would take hundred of years and staggering amounts of money to get all our drugs approved for all these different species and diseases.

So vets have “off-label” drug use privileges.  Off-label drug use means we can use drugs approved for one species (including humans) freely in  other species.

Let’s take a look at some of the facts around Palladia.

Like most of the conventional treatments we use in treating dogs with cancer, the numbers for Palladia are a bit disheartening.

The median duration of objective response (meaning how long the Palladia’s effect lasted on mast cell tumors) was 12 weeks. Yes, 3 months of tumor shrinkage or disappearance  is what you can expect. This number is taken from the original study.

After 3 months the cancer came back.

On top of this, not all dogs with mast cell tumors even responded.  It turns out that roughly 40% of dog with mast cell tumors will actually respond to the drug, while the majority do not.

This means that while about 40% of the time the cancer either went away or shrank, in the remaining 60% of dogs Palladia had no effect.


Get a copy of the Dog Cancer Survival Guide for more information and tools to help your dog with cancer


Sigh.

If you would like to look at the original data for yourself, here is the link.

This highlights important points.

First, there is a big to do about Palladia.  But, the actual statistics are depressing.  Interesting contrast between hype and reality.

Second, I think most guardians of dogs afflicted with mast cell tumors would not be jumping for joy  at these numbers, in spite of the festivities at Pfizer.

Lastly, this shows how important it is to leap sideways in our efforts to really treat canine cancer.

The more I think about dog cancer, and disease in general, the more I believe early choices are key, long before old age.

I will start addressing how dog cancer does not start in old age, in future posts. Instead, it starts many, many years before hand. We need to start taking steps earlier, much earlier.

Best to all,

Dr D

Discover the Full Spectrum Approach to Dog Cancer

Leave a Comment





  1. Nicole Vonderheide on April 10, 2018 at 5:02 am

    Hi –

    My dog Bonz (Bones) was diagnosed with a pituitary brain tumor in 2016. We immediately did chemo (palladia) and radiation. After 6 months, the tumor was gone completely. HOWEVER, it came back 6 months later. (so 1 year with no tumor) The side effects of palladia were pretty terrible for my 65lb pitbull. He tolerated it well enough (no vomiting) but, his stomach sounded like the ocean. He had terrible gas and horribly loose stool. He would lay there at night listless and panting. When the tumor came back 1 year later, we decided to do radiation again, and no palladia this time. The tumor started growing again in 3 months this time. Right now, he is taking adrenal support supplements, phenobarbital, hepatropin, and is on a keto diet adding in the budwig protocol for dogs. He was getting seizures at the 3 month point after the radiation. With the change in diet, the seizures have stopped. When we stop the budwig diet for even a day, the tremors return. Our goal is to keep him happy and comfortable as long as possible. we take every day we get as a blessing.

  2. vicki jackson on November 6, 2017 at 2:11 pm

    My Bernese had anal CA, we treated him with this oral med. for seven months. There was ups and downs anything from mass amounts of blood in his stool to lameness. When something came up we would deal with it. The med did give me back my baby for some of the time, he felt great, would play with his toys , and acted like a four yr old again. The tumor was stinking and for awhile I thought it was going to work. Sadly, it didn’t and the CA spread to his bones, and there was no more I could do for him but say goodbye. When I found out he had CA I wasn’t anywhere near to point to say goodbye to him, I had to do something.Not sure now if I did the right thing, We both went though hell, and I’m not sure if those few months when he felt like his old self was worth it.

  3. Sita on November 22, 2014 at 5:10 pm

    My 14 year old beagle was just put on Palladian 1 month ago following a leg amputation. He has metadstatic mast cell to liver and spleen. He is doing great. No side effects. Will keep u posted on his progress.

  4. KATHY on August 18, 2014 at 2:12 pm

    My 9 year old male Golden Retriever was diagnosed with a large tumor on May 22, on May 28th we had surgery to remove it. The tumor was 13.5 lbs coming from his stomach and encasing the spleen. A biopsy of the tumor indicated it was Leomyosarcoma. I understand this cancer is very rare. We started chemo treatments right away, he had no side effects however a 4 week follow up ultrasound indicated growth on the liver. We switched to palladia and after 4 weeks new tumor had increased in size. A week ago the dosage of Palladia was increased and suddenly he is not acting right, he has horrendous gas now for 5 days, eats but needs to be enticed, isolating himself and just seems down. Can this be a typical reaction? Dr has recommended I skip the next 2 doses to see if he bounces back. Not sure what to do as I promised that I would do everything possible as long as it did not effect his quality of life.

    • Susan Kazara Harper on August 23, 2014 at 12:33 pm

      Kathy, This may be a response to the increased dose of medication, or some other factor. Have you been back in touch with your oncologist? Has anything else changed?

      • Kathy on August 25, 2014 at 9:04 am

        Yes sadly within a matter of 2 weeks his 1 5cm tumour on his liver changed to multiple tumors on stomach and liver that they could see. Some had begun to leak, abdomen had blood in it. After 3 months of fighting and him having the best quality of life he had in years we had to admit defeat and say good bye on August 22. I promised him I would not make him suffer and although I am empty and broken I kept my promise. I am just stunned by how fast and aggressive the progression was. Is this normal?

        • Susan Kazara Harper on August 26, 2014 at 12:34 am

          Kathy, I am soooo sorry to hear you lost your boy. Is it normal? There’s no way to answer it. The causes of cancer are numerous and how each body handles it is very, very individual. But it’s regardless of anything else, it hurts so much to lose our friends. I know you will hear people telling you that you did all you could and gave him the best life he could have. And all of that is absolutely true. Yet it doesn’t fill your arms. He knew completely how much you love him, and I’m sure there is no where else he would have rather been, than with you through everything these past months. When your arms are empty, fill your heart with his joy, and memories of that wagging tail. It will never be OK, but it will get better. Just know that he’s running free again.

  5. Jennifer on July 21, 2014 at 3:44 am

    I lost my Brody 8/8/2013. I tried one pill of Palladia the week before, and he did not seem to tolerate it well. He had horrific diarrhea, and I never forgave myself because I felt like I made him feel worse. I feel like I was fighting an uphill battle from the minute we found his tumor…but I would have tried anything to save him. I never wanted him to be in pain or suffer. I loved him too much. I still miss him every minute of every day. I never felt a love like the love I felt and still feel for my Brody. He was a gift to my life. Taken way too soon…

    • Jill on February 10, 2015 at 4:50 pm

      I am sorry for your loss of your beloved dog. We are going through the same thing, non-resectable liver tumor.My point is you did everything possible for your boy, and he did well, and appears to have had advantage of gainful life with quality of life. In a situation as you faced (and we are facing), it is the most you can do. Your Brody was a very lucky dog.

    • Nancy D'Ambrosio Theiss on August 3, 2017 at 7:06 am

      I just read your post from 3 years ago – looking up the drug Palladia – it broke my heart for you..My little Maltese has a mass that has not spread but they want to shrink it before they operate but i’m terrified about the side effects and dont want to put her thru it. I’m so sorry for your loss i’m sure you still think about your baby every single day – My Cookie is almost 13 and I feel exactly like you do. This dog is my life. I pray she will be okay. Thank you and hope you are doing well in your life.

      • Jamie Argeñal Bambace on March 14, 2018 at 2:12 pm

        What did you decide about cookie . We are extremely scared to put our 13 year old on palladia but what is the other option? Maybe hope the cancer doesn’t come back or let your dog die a painful death? My dog waa diagnosed with anal sac carcimona and had surgery to remove the mass .Now oncologist suggested chemo ,radiation or the palladia because it is targeted . I think all Dr’s just want money .

  6. Brandi on June 5, 2014 at 7:33 am

    Does anyone on this blog have a dog with a sinus tumor being treated with Palladia?

    • Brandi on February 11, 2016 at 7:10 am

      No, he lasted 2 weeks on the regimen. It might have been his time anyway so I cant be certain it was the pills but he passed away two days after his second pill session

  7. Susan Kazara Harper on May 1, 2014 at 4:25 am

    Hi Paula,
    This must be devastating for you. You’ll find so much information in the blog on the diagnosed case. 18 months is very young, which also means your dog should be well able to fight. Please check out the Dog Cancer Diet, the bulk of which you can download from the main blog page (look on the right and insert your emails for your download). There is so much you can do, so please don’t despair. Get the information you need so you can make good decisions, and take a look at this bundle. We’re here to help. All the best!

  8. Paula Andrea Palacio on April 30, 2014 at 2:54 pm

    my dog is just 1 and half year old, has cancer aready

  9. jay brotman on May 27, 2013 at 1:34 pm

    Dear Doc:
    My dog Max is going on 14 years old, and aside from anal sac carcinoma he is in real good shape. He is a Yorkshire Terrier. After being on Palladia for about 8 days Max began having loose stool and vomited on two occasions. The oncologist advised to cease giving him the drug until further advise once the holiday weekend has passed. After reading your article, I am now suspect of Palladia. What other chemo drugs should I discuss for a dog my size and age who is in good health otherwise>

    Thanks

  10. gen on May 7, 2013 at 10:00 pm

    My dog with osteosarcoma, age 14, lab mix, has taken Palladia for 10 months. It shrunk one lung met by 40% and lymph node metastasis which is very rare in osteosarcoma, has been stable, meaning not growing for 10 months!! This is considered a fantastic response to Palladia by her Vet oncologists and regular Vet and has prolonged her life by nearly oneear now! She has great quality of life, little side effects, some slight g.I. issues, ie, diarrhea occassionally. so, please note Palladia has been wonderful drug for my dog!! Drug efficacy is great for herand you will not know your dog’s response unless you try! Prayers help too and positive thoughts!! She has survived over 20 months now post amputation, miracle journey of love for this beautiful maniac of a dog!!,do your research on chemo, Palladia, etc. But take my advice and try what has a decent chance!! She has also taken Cytoxan, Piroxicam at the same time as part of Metronimic Protocol, to slow cancer growth. I would not change one thing and she continues with a great life. One day doggie heaven but Palladia has definitely aided her immensely, so please watch the words of warnings and bashing a bit viable choices since proper characterization of what may help a dog really matters. Vets have different philosophies about what should be tried, my dog and I will be eternally grateful to Dr. Mona Rosenberg and her entire team at veterinary Cancer group in los Angeles CA and to Dr. Ann Jeglum and her great staff in West Chester PA

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